SAE Liverpool student launches eCommerce business using skills developed on Web Development course

19 Aug 2020

Bart Steccanella is a Web Development student at SAE Liverpool who has launched his own eCommerce platform called Game Gorilla, which sells gaming accessories. We caught up with him to find out how he’s channelled the skills he’s used on the course with this venture, and to hear how he’s been affected by Covid-19. 

What inspired you to create a business selling game accessories? 

Funny enough it was a fellow student at SAE who one day during class showed me a Nintendo Gameboy Advance that he had modified. It was awesome, with a new shell, extra-bright IPS screen and rechargeable battery. In particular, he mentioned how it was difficult to obtain an IPS screen from China as the shipping times were too long and that he was forced to pay a premium in order to have it arrive from a UK seller, he also mentioned how little choice of UK sellers there was. I was already reselling designer clothing online and was looking to transition into replenishables for quite some time and this was just a lightbulb moment.

Did you always want to run a business alongside your degree? 

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset and have dabbled in numerous online ventures in the past. I started reselling clothes online at the beginning of this course and slowly transitioned into gaming accessories. Seeing that I was studying web development it was only natural to get an eCommerce store up and running too! 

How has the course at SAE given you the skills to not only build a functional website but also to run a business at the same time? 

The skills developed at SAE have been useful in getting my business running in many different ways. Most importantly learning to read code has allowed me to build a platform which is unique. Although I am relying on a third-party platform such as Shopify, by tweaking the code of my theme I was able to create a site which I feel is different from my competitors. I’ve always loved digital marketing and branding so the marketing modules were a great springboard to further harness my skills and implement them into different ways to promote my website and attract customers!

What inspired the name ‘Game Gorilla’? 

I love alliterations as they are easy to remember and I definitely wanted the word Game in there as it is broad enough for me to venture into not only retro parts and accessories but potentially new gaming consoles and video games in the future too! Gorilla seemed like the perfect fit as it reminded me of one of my all-time Nintendo favourites Donkey Kong.

How did you settle on the design elements e.g. the logo and colour palette? 

As soon as I came up with the name I immediately knew that I wanted a Gorilla playing a GameBoy as a logo, as initially I was selling mostly Gameboy parts! I went through a few drafts but didn’t take too long to come up with something I was happy with. It actually took me way longer to settle on a palette that I was happy with but that is probably because I was staring at the screen for so long that they all started to appear the same. I read somewhere that the perfect amount of colours in a logo was between 1 and 3 so I wanted something bi-tone. After what felt like hundreds of different drafts I fell in love with what I have today which was inspired by a bright 80’s retro wave palette seeing that that was when most of the first videogames were created!

What were some of the challenges of creating this website? 

Setting up the inventory system and integrating it between eBay and the eCommerce store was definitely a struggle (still is a bit of a struggle to be honest). Tweaking the theme code was actually quite straightforward although I put it off for quite some time as I had convinced myself that it would have been a lot harder than it actually was!

How have you been affected by Covid-19 and how have you found the temporary shift to online teaching? 

Covid-19 had both a positive and negative effect on my business. The downside was that stock from China took a lot longer to arrive and therefore I had some trouble keeping inventory levels high. The positive effect was that business increased a lot since brick and mortar stores were closed across the world therefore more and more people turned to the internet for their shopping!

The shift to online teaching was perfect in my opinion and I didn’t have any trouble at all adapting to the lessons. The only thing that I had trouble with was remembering when I had to log in to Zoom for meetings!  

What are your long-term career goals within the Web industry? 

I absolutely love what I am doing now and plan to carry on with online selling. My biggest goal for next year is to automate the physical side of things in order to be location independent and be able to travel a lot more!

Do you have any other web projects that you’d like to tell us about? 

I don’t have any other web projects at the moment but once I feel that Game Gorilla is running as smooth as it can, I’d like to repeat the process within a different niche!

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